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HUMANITIES 431 story-telling. McMullen's documentary sources seem to have got the upper hand. The letters·and parts of letters she presents - interesting as they maybe in themselves- resistincorporationinto the story. Either they refer to situations the reader knows nothing about, and so pose baffling and distracting puzzles, or they generate long side-trips to explain their context. It's hard to get back on the main road after these side-trips, for McMullen shows us some exotic sights in the London literary and theatrical scene. Moreover, the text surrounding these documentary excerpts often does very little to guide the reader into them and out of them. They are 'finds,' no doubt, but sometimes it is not clear what they prove about Frances Brooke. An Odd Attempt is not strongly argued. The structure of evidence Brooke 's literary output and the documentary material McMullen has found - prevails, and dwarfs her insights into the meaning ofBrooke'slife and career. Those insights might have managed and tamed the unruly results of research, but instead they are shy, diffident things. Often they show up as seeming afterthoughts, dangling at chapter ends. As a result, we get no very coherent picture of Brooke's life. We do learn about her social and professional affiliations - although she did not have much connection with Richardson, she did have a surprisingly close relationship with Dr Johnson - but her personal life remains a mystery. Her marriage toaman she considered an interfering spoiler; herworries about money; her adored son: these subjects do show up, but only spasmodically and never in a topical position. McMullen cannot know for sure about Brooke's intimate experience, and neither can we. But we can make a few inferences, take a few risks. And these inferences don't have to be rash or irresponsible. Indeed, they only need to propose the connection between the two elements ofliterary biography- the connection between life and letters. (JANET GILTROW) James Doyle. North ofAmerica: Images ofCanada in the Literature ofthe United States, 1775-1900 ECW Press 1983. 185. $g.95 paper Serious readers of American literature are familiar with the disparate depictions of Canada to be found in Longfellow's Evangeline (1847), Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1853), Thoreau's'A Yankee in Canada' (1866), and Howells's Their Wedding Journey (1872). Few, however, would feel inclined to explicate in a coherent pattern the varying images such works project. For Americans generally, Canada, an attic above their capacious house, has served many purposes without eliciting much sustained enthusiasm or interest. Idyllic for Longfellow, a haven-terminus for Stowe, a paradox for Thoreau, a question for Howells - '[Quebec] is not 432 LETTERS IN CANADA 1984 America; ifitis notFrance, whatis it?'- Canada has eludedmostAmerican writers who have chosen it as a setting, symbol, or subject of study. ButifAmericans have been and are only mildlyinterested in the subject of Canada, Canadians can be expected to respond to the question with considerable eagerness. Thus, it is appropriate that James Doyle, a Canadian academic well versed in American letters, should seek to trace American literary images of Canada from colonial times to 1900. In so doing he unearths a wealth of interesting responses ranging from early captivity narratives and journals to dime-novels, travel sketches, and romances. His study not only greatly broadens our awareness of American treatments of Canada but also establishes certain persistent patterns which stress at once American's strong sense of its own manifest destiny and its consequent myopia, even its naIvete, concerning institutions and behaviour of a different political stamp. To see ourselves is in part always a function of how we are seen. North ofAmerica aids greatly in this pursuit. While always careful to register the responses to CanadaofmajorAmericanwriters- Cooper, Twain, Howells, James, Thoreau, Whitman, and Garland - Doyle has gathered together much thatis otherwise overlooked or forgotten. From suchtexts we learn, for instance, of the persistent disdain nineteenth-century Americans felt for Canadiancommericalbackwardness, for the complacent subservience Canadians exhibited before English rule, and in Lower Canada for the extraordinary power of the Catholic Church over the people. Indeed, because of the old-world charm of Lower Canada and the growing interest in tourism and travel...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 431-433
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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